Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GIDGET (the Taco Bell dog)
1994-July 21, 2009

Ed's note: Mini (my Editorial Assistant, pictured under "Support Staff" in the column to the right) asked to say a few words in memory of one of her favorite fellow canines, who died last night after suffering a stroke. After all the help she gives me screening albums, editing manuscripts, rolling calls and doing internet research, how could I refuse? --Paul

It's not easy being small. Just ask Russell from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Bobby from The Brady Bunch, or Verne Troyer.

It's even harder for us dogs.

"Why don't you just get a cat?" "Your dog looks like a rat..." "Oh my god, you have a pet bat?" "Ooh, what a vicious watchdog..."

Yeah, you humans are really creative with your insults.

Sorry we can't all be as big as Golden Retrievers, Labs or Border Collies, but don't blame your dog envy on us. People say we're the small-minded ones, but we've got room for everyone in our packs.

And I like to think of Gidget as a canine version of Michael Jackson.

The King of Pop opened doors to MTV, and Gidget opened doggy doors to American pop culture. Michael Jackson transcended color lines, and Gidget transcended fast food's burger barrier. MJ penned "We Are The World," and Gidget coined "Yo quiero Taco Bell!"

And just like Michael Jackson, Gidget loved to make little kids smile. (Come on, just because my dad won't go there, doesn't mean I can't!)

Nothing against 101 Dalmations, Spuds Mackenzie, or Petey from Our Gang, but how much butt did Mojo kick in Transformers? Reese Witherspoon didn't have a Great Dane by her side when she graduated at the top of her class in Legally Blonde, and Paris Hilton doesn't walk around Beverly Hills with an armful of St. Bernards.

No, it doesn't count that Perez Hilton looks like a St. Bernard.

It doesn't matter if we're big or small, most dogs are wired the same. We can't get enough of our people, we love having our bellies rubbed, and every once in a while we'll bark for absolutely no reason at all.

Gidget reminded America that dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and it's okay to have ears as big as your head. For that, she'll forever hold a place in the hearts of us small - and sometimes awkward looking - dogs everywhere.

The next time you get your dog a side order of chicken at the Taco Bell drive-thru, take a moment to thank Gidget... And if you don't buy your dog chicken at the Taco Bell drive-thru, get with the program! You think you're the only one who quiero Taco Bell?


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